Do you have a sweet tooth but still want to stay healthy? If so, we’ve got some good news for you. As it turns out, there’s tons of junk food out there that isn’t actually all bad for you. Sure, it’s key that you enjoy everything in moderation, but it’s good to know that you can still indulge while continuing to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs. These healthier junk food alternatives will keep you feeling good, while also allowing you to satisfy your sweet tooth’s cravings. Of course, it’s important to remember, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite junk foods, even the less healthy ones. In fact, treating yourself from time to time is important and good for you! Now get ready to take notes, because here are 10 Junk Foods That Are Actually Good For You.
10. We All Scream for Ice Cream
Ice cream is the dependable hero of breakups, failed tests, and bad days. No matter what you’re going through, you can always rely on ice cream to be there. The good news is, it turns out that using ice cream as a coping mechanism might not be as unhealthy as we’ve been led to believe. Naturally, eating anything in excess isn’t exactly the key to optimal health, especially when it comes to foods with a high sugar content. However, when eaten in moderation, ice cream has the benefit of being a delicious, satisfying treat, while also providing you with some important nutrients. Unsurprisingly, considering that it’s a dairy product, ice cream is loaded with calcium and protein, as well as potassium and magnesium. What’s less obvious is that certain brands contain probiotics and different types of B-vitamins. You probably won’t find these added benefits in the crazy, over-the-top ice cream flavors, like Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, but they’re commonly seen in many other brands, like Enlightened or Ciao Bella’s Adonia. So next time you’re feeling blue, keep in mind that indulging in some ice cream isn’t just good for the mind, it’s good for the body too!
9. Pork Versus Potato
If you often find yourself craving a crunchy, salty snack, skip the chips and reach for a bag of pork rinds instead. They might sound like the least healthy food item imaginable, but they’re not as bad as one might think, especially when they’re compared to potato chips. They contain essentially no carbohydrates and have an impressive protein content, clocking in at about seventeen grams in a one-ounce serving. A similar serving of potato chips, on the other hand, might contain less than two grams of protein and as much as fifteen grams of carbohydrates. That’s definitely a big difference between the two food items! While they wouldn’t be considered a low-fat snack, one of the main sources of fat in pork rinds is oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil and classified as a healthy fat. They also contain a saturated fat called stearic acid, which doesn’t lead to increased blood cholesterol levels, as many other types of fat do. Overall, this makes them a great alternative to potato chips, which, unfortunately, don’t tend to have the same nutritional value. So, the next time you’re trying to choose a snack to munch on while watching TV, consider picking up some pork rinds. Adding them into your snack rotation will not only add some variety, but also help you keep yourself in good health while also taking some time to relax on the couch and take in your favorite TV show.
8. A Night at the Movies
Popcorn is frequently labelled as unhealthy, but this bad reputation isn’t necessarily well-deserved. It’s one of those food items that isn’t inherently unhealthy, but the toppings added to it can easily make it unhealthy. Movie theater popcorn, which is soaked in butter, probably wouldn’t qualify as healthy. However, by making it at home, you can control how much oil or butter is added. Additionally, you can choose to add a sprinkle of seasoning, like chili powder, which won’t reduce the popcorn’s nutritional value, but will make its flavor a bit more interesting. Popcorn is a healthy snack for many different reasons. By nature of being a whole grain, it’s incredibly high in fiber. It’s also full of polyphenols, which is a type of antioxidant that’s been suggested to be a protective factor against cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer. Because it’s a high-volume snack, popcorn is quite filling, so you’re guaranteed to be satisfied by it. So, microwave some popcorn, crash on your couch, pull up Netflix, and settle in for a well-deserved movie night. Treat yourself to a little rest and relaxation and bask in the smell of freshly popped popcorn – you’ll truly be living your best life.
7. I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee Da Ba Daa)
This entry is a bit hard to believe, but it’s definitely an interesting one. Apparently, not all M&Ms are made equal. By that, we mean that the blue ones might actually be healthier for you than the other colors are. Some studies have found that the blue dye used to color the blue M&Ms is linked to less severe damage in spinal injuries, accompanied by accelerated recovery. This research was conducted out of the University of Rochester Medical Center. There, this blue dye, which is called Brilliant Blue G, or BBG for short, was injected into rats with spinal cord injuries. Those injected with BBG experienced accelerated recovery and regained their ability to walk more quickly. It seems crazy, but weirder things have been found to be true. This is definitely an interesting finding that calls for further research. But for now, know that enjoying M&Ms (or blue Gatorade, which also contains BBG), might actually have positive effects. For even better health outcomes, opt for Pretzel M&Ms over the regular kind, since they’re much lower in fat and contain nearly 100 fewer calories. Plus, the sweet and salty combo of chocolate and pretzels is always a win. Just remember to stock up on the blue ones.
6. One Potato, Two Potato
Can fried food ever really be healthy? Probably not, but some forms of it are definitely worse than others. One of the better fried food items out there is the sweet potato fry. If you thought that sweet potato fries were identical to regular fries in terms of nutritional value, you’re not far off. They have a very similar fat and carb content, and you’re probably going to consume the same number of calories regardless, but sweet potato fries are more nutrient-dense than their regular counterparts. Not only do sweet potatoes contain far more fiber, but they’re a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin A. Most restaurants will let you swap out your side of regular fries for a side of sweet potato fries, and it turns out that doing so might actually be worth the extra dollar or two they cost. They also come with the added benefit of pairing perfectly with spicy mayo, which is, of course, the superior condiment. Sweet potato fries also tend to be tastier than regular fries, and as a result many people actually prefer them. So, there’s really no losing here; it’s the ultimate win-win situation!
5. Tortilla Chips and Beyond
It seems that there are two types of people in the world. There are those who crave sweet, sugary junk food, and there are those who are drawn to salty, crunchy junk food. This entry falls into the second category. If pork rinds aren’t your thing, there’s another alternative to potato chips out there that’s also proved to be much better for your health. Tortilla chips have become quite the trend as of late, making a huge splash on the health food scene. Ingredients like whole grains make them high in fiber and extremely nutritious. While tortilla chips are already healthier than a conventional potato chip, many new twists on the tortilla chip have been released recently. Chips made of kale, seaweed, beans, or other grain-free products have become incredibly popular, thanks to their great taste and relatively high nutritional value. Some people are hesitant to try some of the more “out there” variations, but don’t let the healthy ingredients scare you off. It’s impressive how similar a kale chip tastes to a regular tortilla chip. Whether you prefer a classic tortilla chip or one of the many alternatives, your dip of choice should always be guacamole. Avocados are chock full of healthy fats, and by making the guac on your own you can ensure that there are no unhealthy additives. The pairing of tortilla chips and guac is the perfect appetizer for dinner parties, or TV snack on game days.
4. Bitter is Better
As if we needed more incentive to eat chocolate… It’s common knowledge that dark chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolate, but what not everyone knows is that eating dark chocolate from time to time can be good for you! And in more ways than one. Not only is it high in iron, fiber, and antioxidants, but, thanks to its flavonoid content, it can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and help keep your blood pressure under control. Furthermore, while chocolate isn’t the best source of protein, there’s still a pretty significant amount – there are about two grams in a 1.5-ounce bar. The only real downside to chocolate is its sugar content, which is why dark chocolate is the way to go. To reap all the benefits of a chocolate bar without the adverse effects of high sugar content, opt for chocolate that’s at least seventy percent cacao. This percentage is relatively low in sugar, while also still tasting good. The higher the percentage, the healthier, but you have to be a tank to be able to handle the bitterness of a 90% cacao chocolate bar. Many people even find the 70% cacao dark chocolate too bitter for their taste. If that’s something you relate to, consider trying dark chocolate a few more times. You might find that it’s just a matter of getting used to it, and you might end up falling in love! Another great thing about dark chocolate is that there are many different kinds of snacks that incorporate it. From granola bars to dried fruit coated in dark chocolate, you’ve got tons of delicious snack options to choose from.
3. One-Third of a S’more
As good as they taste, most cookies are pretty unhealthy. To make matters worse, it’s far too easy to eat an entire sleeve in one sitting. Often cookies come with fillings or frostings that are sweet enough to create instant cavities. Because they lack this, Graham Crackers are the way to go if you’re trying to buy a healthier cookie. As far as cookies go, they’re a bit dry, but this can easily be compensated for with a tall glass of milk. Plus, having Graham Crackers on hand is always a good idea, since you never know when you’re going to need to make some emergency s’mores. Not that s’mores have a place on a list of healthy junk foods but enjoying a sweet treat every once in a while is an important part of having a balanced diet. For bonus points, try making your s’more with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. For those of you who are keeping your health in check, but who are also plagued with a persistent sweet tooth, Graham Crackers are a great way to keep you happy and healthy. If you have kids, Graham Crackers are the perfect dessert to pack in their lunch boxes. They’ll love getting a sweet after lunch snack, and you’ll love that they’re still eating well.
2. A Decadent Frozen Dessert
Are you on the market for a dessert that’s both decadent and still relatively good for you? Because, if so, look no further than Dove’s Raspberry Sorbet Bar with Dark Chocolate. Actually, Dove is a great brand if you’re in the mood for a sweet but healthy treat, because many of their products fit that description. These snack-sized bars in particular clock in at only 150 calories apiece and consist of raspberry sorbet covered in dark chocolate. Sorbet is a great alternative for ice cream, as it’s lower in both sugar and fat. Of course, the dark chocolate coating has its own benefits, which we’ve already touched upon in this list. Despite being pretty healthy, Dove’s Raspberry Sorbet Bar with Dark Chocolate still tastes great and is absolutely up to the task of satisfying even the strongest sugar cravings. Even better, because they’re frozen, these sorbet bars make for a very refreshing treat during the hot summer months. Having a box of these on hand at all times is a good idea, as it’ll give you an easy, tasty, and relatively healthy option if you find yourself in the mood for a dessert. With Dove’s Raspberry Sorbet Bar with Dark Chocolate, you’ll truly be getting the best of both worlds.
1. (Some) Gummy Candies
Before you get excited thinking that eating Sour Patch Kids and Gummy Worms comes with amazing health benefits, we need to emphasize that this applies to some gummy candies and not all. Unfortunately, Sour Patch Kids, Gummy Worms, and any other gummy candies covered in sugar or containing corn syrup and artificial dyes don’t quite make the cut. Not that you shouldn’t eat them, but they probably shouldn’t become your new daily snack. While some gummy candies can have some nutritional perks, others don’t do much other than taste good. Luckily, if you look hard enough, you can find many different kinds of gummy candies that are low in sugar content and are made with all-natural ingredients. Some of these brands include Newman’s Own Organics, Surf Sweets, and Black Forest Organics. These candies are sweet and fruity, and really aren’t that bad for you at all. That, coupled with the fact that they come in individual packages, means they make for the perfect snack for anyone on the go. Even better, many of these products have natural flavors, and are organic and GMO-free, meaning that they appeal to even the most health-conscious among us. You really can’t go wrong with a snack like this!